Patients across Scotland are suffering “scarcely believable” waits to undergo routine procedures in the NHS on the SNP’s watch, research from the Scottish Conservatives can expose today.
Responses to Freedom of Information requests by the party from all but one of Scotland’s health boards reveal that one patient waited over four years for a hip or knee replacement in NHS Tayside.
Another patient in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde had to wait almost four years for a hip replacement, while the average wait for this procedure in Scotland’s largest health board is 340 days.
The FOI responses also reveal an NHS Grampian patient waited over three years for cataract surgery, while patients in NHS Lothian are waiting a year on average for a knee replacement.
Shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane says the waits are “beyond disgraceful” and highlight the “dire workforce planning” by successive SNP health secretaries which mean health boards are “dangerously” understaffed and simply do not have the capacity to carry out procedures in a timely fashion.
Public Health Scotland statistics this week revealed over 1,900 beds were taken up in November by patients whose discharge from hospital was delayed, despite the SNP promising to eradicate so-called bed blocking in 2015.
Close to 830,000 patients are also on NHS waiting lists in Scotland.
Dr Gulhane said that the “scandal-ridden” SNP health secretary Michael Matheson is “unfit” for office and should either be sacked or resign from his position in charge of Scotland’s NHS.
Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP said: “These waiting times for suffering patients are scarcely believable.
“It is beyond disgraceful that any patient should be waiting for over four years for a routine procedure. While they are described as routine, getting the surgery carried out is life-changing for patients.
“The fact that this is occurring right across Scotland exposes the SNP’s horrendous mismanagement of our NHS during their near 17 years in office.
“Successive SNP health secretaries – including Humza Yousaf – have presided over dire workforce planning which has left frontline services dangerously understaffed.
“These intolerable waits will be having a deeply damaging impact on these patients, not only physically, but mentally as well.
“One in seven Scots are languishing on NHS waiting lists and the SNP have miserably failed to eradicate delayed discharge from our hospitals as they promised to do in 2015. At every turn, the SNP have allowed our NHS to fall into chaos.
“The current SNP health secretary Michael Matheson is scandal-ridden and unfit for office. Since taking up his role, he has done nothing to get on top of our NHS crisis and more and more patients are suffering as a result. He should do the decent thing and resign. If he doesn’t, Humza Yousaf should sack him.”
Responses from all health boards who responded are available on request.
A patient in Tayside waited four years and 175 days for a hip or knee replacement. When asked for data on hip and knee replacements NHS Tayside did not provide data on both separately, so it is unknown if the procedure in question is a hip replacement or a knee replacement. (Scottish Conservative FOI, 6 December 2023, Available on Request).
The average wait for a knee replacement in NHS Lothian is over a year. The average patient in this health board will wait 370 days for a knee replacement.
Another patient in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area waited three years, 330 days for a hip replacement. GGC also had the longest average wait, with the average patient waiting 340 days. (Scottish Conservative FOI, 6 December 2023, Available on Request).
A patient in NHS Grampian waited three years, 179 days for cataract surgery. NHS Orkney had the longest average wait at 236 days. (Scottish Conservative FOI, 6 December 2023, Available on Request).
Almost 830,000 patients are now waiting for treatment on the NHS. At 30 September 2023, 525,654 patients were waiting for an outpatient procedure, 151,093 were waiting for an inpatient procedure, and 151,651 were waiting for a diagnostic procedure. In total, this means 828,398 patients were waiting for an NHS procedure, up 8,046 on the previous quarter. (NHS waiting times - stage of treatment, 28 November 2023, link; NHS waiting times – diagnostics, 28 November 2023, link).
Delayed discharge stats for November 2023: https://publichealthscotland.scot/publications/delayed-discharges-in-nhsscotland-monthly/delayed-discharges-in-nhsscotland-monthly-figures-for-november-2023#section-1
At the November 2023 census, there were 1,910 people delayed. This is an increase in the number of people delayed in the past three months, with a 5% increase in number of people delayed from October 2023 (1,815)